The physical change of snow grains within the snowpack due to differences in temperature and pressure.
From the instant snow hits the ground, it begins an endless process of metamorphism. No commonly-occurring substance in nature undergoes such dramatic and rapid changes because snow exists near its “triple point”, meaning that solid, liquid and vapor phases all exist at the same time. In other words, small, subtle changes in temperature, pressure, humidity and temperature gradient can have a dramatic effect on the type of snow crystal that forms. This makes snow one of the most complex and changeable substances on Earth. Here is a condensed list of the most common types:
|TYPE||ALSO CALLED||LOOKS LIKE||WHERE FOUND||HOW IT'S FORMED|
|New snow||Powder, rime, graupel, etc.||No two are alike||On the snow surface||Falls from the sky|
|Rounded snow||Equilibrium snow Old Snow||Fine-grained, chalky||Old layers of snow||Low temperature gradient conditions (less than 1 deg C per 10 cm)|
|Faceted Snow||Sugar Snow Kinetic Snow Depth Hoar (when near the ground)||Sparkly, large-grained||Anywhere in the snowpack||Large temperature gradient conditions within the snowpack (more than 1 deg C per 10 cm)|
|Surface Hoar||Frost, Feathers||Sparkly, large-grained||On the snow surface or buried by more recent layers||Winter equivalent of dew on the snow surface|
|Melt-Freeze Snow||Corn snow Spring snow Wet snow||Corn snow Spring snow Wet snow||Snow surface or buried by more recent layers||Repeated melting and freezing of the snowpack|